Some Partnerships Are More Equal Than Others

Pic not related. OR IS IT?

Pic not related. OR IS IT?

I was struck by this portion of David Torrance’s latest article:

Nicola Sturgeon is fond of claiming that, during the first independence referendum, Scots were repeatedly assured by senior Unionists that the UK was a “partnership of equals” and therefore the fact Scotland voted Remain had to be recognised in the forthcoming negotiations. Now it’s a superficially compelling point, but in reality those campaigning for a No vote back in 2012-14 said no such thing.

Sure, there was lots of talk about the UK being a “family of nations”, but that isn’t the same thing as arguing that Scotland and England (and indeed Wales and Northern Ireland) somehow occupy the family home on an equal basis. The only senior Unionist to use the phrase “partnership of equals” was the former prime minister Gordon Brown, but he was talking about his (unfulfilled) proposals for a quasi-federal UK rather than the status quo.

In fact the two politicians who used that phrase most frequently were Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon, usually to describe how they envisaged Anglo-Scottish relations post-independence, but subsequently the line has been attributed to their opponents, so successfully that many of my Unionist chums genuinely believe that David Cameron, Nick Clegg, et al described the UK in those terms.

Really, Mr Torrance? Nobody campaigning for a No vote in 2012-14 said anything like that? Nobody at all? Nobody advocating a No vote in the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum campaign used language that could conceivably be construed as suggesting the UK was an equal partnership – not a possibility, not a dream, but the actual state of affairs?


The overwhelming majority of Scots believe in the UK and want to remain part of this 300 year long equal partnership.
– Ruth Davidson, 5th November 2011

There is more that brings us together than tears us apart. A future in which Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England continue to flourish side-by-side as equal partners.
– Theresa May, Scottish Conservative Party Conference, 24th March 2012

Today we are equal partners in the United Kingdom.
– Alistair Darling, John P. Mackintosh Lecture, 9th November 2012

The UK is a union of belonging and sharing. It is a union of equals and partnership: not a contractual union or marriage of convenience.
– Johann Lamont, 22nd March 2014

If a backbench opposition MP is a “senior Unionist,” then what does that make the UK Government’s party leader in the Scottish Parliament, the then-Home Secretary (and current Prime Minister) of the United Kingdom, the leader of the official No campaign, and the then-leader of the then-second largest party in the Scottish Parliament?

Actually, it wasn’t just party leaders, campaign leaders, and Prime Ministers against independence who’ve said similar things over the years:

Scotland at present is in a commanding position as an equal partner in our great Imperial organisation. I am afraid that that position of importance would be greatly diminished by the establishment of a Parliament in Edinburgh, and for that reason I am strongly opposed to it.
George Younger, 1st Viscount Younger of Leckie, former MP for Ayr, 15th May 1914

The position of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, the Government and this party is absolutely clear. We are determined to maintain Scotland’s full place as an equal partner in the United Kingdom and to create no bodies which would fragment or undermine that position.
Ian Lang, former MP for Galloway & Secretary of State for Scotland, now Baron of Monckton, 26th February 1992

Still today Scotsmen – and Scotswomen – figure prominently in the political community from which our government is drawn. There are five Scots in my cabinet. They’re not there on sufferance, or in token representation of Scotland. But because union has given the English and the Scots equal freedom to rise to the top of our national affairs.
– John Major, 22nd February 1992

In conclusion, Scotland’s place is as a full and equal partner in the United Kingdom.
Raymond Robertson, former MP for Aberdeen South, 11th July 1994

We are all in the same club, because the United Kingdom is our United Kingdom. Scotland, like Wales, is an equal partner in the United Kingdom.
Robert Key, former MP for Salisbury, 14th May 1997

I believe in each of the constituent parts of our United Kingdom—Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England—having equal status.
Jim Wallace, 9th February 2011

Has the Secretary of State considered the recent study by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, which shows that even if it formed a sterling zone with the UK, a separate Scotland would experience volatile public finances, inherit debts at either 70% or 80% of GDP, and face tougher constraints on levels of tax and borrowing than it does as an equal participant in fiscal union with the UK?
– Willie Bain, 22nd February 2012

The choice before the people of Scotland is straightforward: whether to leave the United Kingdom or to continue in a partnership of equals in a Union with England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
– Margaret Curran, 15th January 2013

This has been a partnership of equals, although one of the countries is very much smaller in population than the other.
Patrick Cormack, 30th January 2014

It is a decision for the people of Scotland and we will respect that decision, but for me it is unthinkable that Scotland would not be part of the union of nations that has been so successful in these islands, a union into which I was born and where nations stand together as equals.
Roy Kennedy, 16th June 2014

Whatever the post-Scottish referendum arrangements are, the UK already looks more like a constitutional partnership of equals in what is in essence a voluntary multinational association.
Wilf Stevenson, now Baron of Balmacara, 24th June 2014

We’ve mingled, married, succeeded, failed, occasionally fallen out, made up and got on. As equal partners. So why divorce now?
– George Galloway, 29th June 2014

That’s an awful lot of pro-UK Members of Parliament, Secretaries of State, Lords, and Prime Ministers referring to the United Kingdom as a “partnership of equals,” or the four nations as “equal partners.” Hopefully Mr Torrance will see fit to correct his article.

EDIT: Mr Torrance was kind enough to acknowledge this post on Twitter:



First Andrew Marr, now David Torrance? Scottish politics really is topsy turvy!

EDIT 2: My first post on has just been published. It’s a further commentary on Mr Torrance’s article: it’s a wee bit more opinionated than this piece, but I figure he’s robust enough for different strokes.


30 thoughts on “Some Partnerships Are More Equal Than Others

  1. benmadigan says:

    well done! call their bluff whevever you can!!

  2. diabloandco says:

    I love that “pretty good research job ‘ comment – patronising prat that he is!
    Don’t suppose he bothers researching anything just writes whatever drivel comes into his head and picks up his pay cheque from the ever incredible Herald/ Times/Guardian or any other anti Scottish outlet.

    Did I write ‘incredible’,? I meant ‘discredited’

  3. Macart says:

    I’m sure he meant to say in his original piece, ‘but with a few misguided though notable exceptions…’. 😀 LOL

    Neatly done Taranaich.

    Mibbies the fella should consider doing some of that research stuff himself?

  4. Ghillie says:

    Well done Taranaich = )

  5. Flushed him out there! 😄

  6. Michael Dillon says:

    Nailed it belter, will it stop the beardy walloper from spouting uninformed, misleading drivel will it feck perhaps a complaint to his employer will.

  7. Saor Alba says:

    It was good that he acknowledged this post on Twitter, but has he had the decency to correct his article as originally published?

    A decent and honest response would be for Mr Torrance to clearly highlight, correct and acknowledge the original error in the same publication, for the same readership.

    Well done on your solid research Taranaich! You have my utmost respect.

  8. Morag says:

    It’s all very well for him to acknowledge his crass error in a personal tweet to you, but where is the correction as prominent as his original piece? Not happening? Jo done.

  9. Jeff Lewis says:

    And similarly, we now have Brexiters claiming that Vote Leave never made any promises or claims, usually defending their view through truly tortured interpretation of how colloquial English works.

  10. Colin Dunn says:

    “George Younger, 1st Viscount Younger of Leckie, former MP for Ayr, 15th May 1914”

    1914. Goodness. He’s aged well. 😉

  11. Brian says:

    Torrance’s tweet to you is immensely patronising. If he means what he says, he will include a correction in his next Herald article.
    My guess is he’s secretly pleased people are talking about him. Perhaps he is one of the Scots referred to recently by John Cleese.

  12. Brian says:

    ps well done, you and other bloggers need to keep calling these liars out. Nobody else will.

  13. jake says:

    He is an imaginative writer and I harbour the notion that his intellectual agility owes much to his having a mind almost entirely unencumbered by facts.

  14. Illiam says:

    Congratulations on getting an acknowledgement from Mr Torrance – in my case he chose to block me on Twitter for pointing out his assertion was wrong.

  15. Illiam says:

    Given that, contrary to the original claim made by Mr Torrance, it is quite clear that the UK has been repeatedly touted as an ‘equal partnership’ or ‘partnership of equals’ by those who champion it – I would be interested to see if he will correct his original article and clarify which of the following he now therefore considers to be the case: a) That the politicians championing it in such terms are all wrong, and have failed to understand the nature of the Union they are defending; b) They were all lying; or c) They were telling the truth, and that the way Scotland is being treated in relation to Brexit is, therefore, a breach of this principle.

  16. jimnarlene says:

    Mibby if he did some research of his own…

  17. Saor Alba says:

    i posted a reply earlier today, but it seems not to have been included. My email address and name were given. Is there anything wrong?

    Saor Alba

  18. John Hermse says:

    Great job Al……well done.

  19. […] the Scottish Independence Referendum, much was made of the United Kingdom being a “partnership of equals.” Ruth Davidson called the UK “a 300-year-old equal partnership.” Alistair […]

  20. […] delivered. The Scottish Government have repeatedly insisted that the UK Government treat Scotland as equal partners, and since this is the first referendum in the UK’s history where there is not a four nation […]

  21. […] to the Scotland Bill. In 2016, they reacted to the 62% vote of one country in this “Equal Partnership” with disinterest, saying it was a “UK vote,” and so a “UK decision.” […]

  22. […] October – Some Partnerships Are More Equal Than Others. In which I got David Torrance to (partially) admit he was (partially) wrong. While I think the […]

  23. […] not what you told us during the independence referendum: it was all about being a Partnership of Equals; of Scotland leading, not leaving, the UK; of solidarity with the people of England and Wales […]

  24. […] To the UK Government, power is the only motivator, the only justification, the only cause: given the choice between doing the right thing, and retaining their grip on power, of course they will choose the latter. The only day they have ever cared about what the people of Scotland want was the 18th of September 2014 – every day since, they have ignored the clearly established & defined mandate, falsely subsuming it into a “UK-wide vote” which makes a mockery of the notion of a “precious” “union of equals.” […]

  25. […] most tellingly, is an admission that the “Equal Partnership” so earnestly promoted by former Prime Ministers and party leaders is in itself a fiction, […]

What're your thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.